When Kyler Phillips was offered Song Yadong, a ranked opponent, in just his third UFC fight, he didn’t think much of it. He accepted the fight the way he claims he would have for any name the UFC sent him, because it is a chance for him to show off his art — his style.
That has become a mantra for MMA Lab fighters as of late. Mario Bautista (who also fights this weekend) has also remarked that he was focused on his own growth over planning for opponents this camp. The concept also seems to jive with teammates Casey Kenney and Sean O’Malley as well.
But while Phillips has his mind primarily on his own skills, that doesn’t mean that he is discrediting his opponent or ignoring their game altogether.
“You definitely don’t want to focus too much on your opponent’s style. You want to know what they do and find their habits so what you can capitalize and play yours, but if you focus too much on their game, you might be playing their game,” Phillips said. “Wherever you put the focus, the power flows.”
That focus and power he feels will be on his offense, which he has locked into. Regardless of what his opponent brings, that’s where he feels he’ll be at his best.
“This guy is going to come forwards, and maybe he’s working on stuff at Team Alpha Male, but at the end of the day, we’re focused on ourselves and winning,” he said. “[We’re] prioritizing implementing our offense. Even our defense is our offense, so we’ll be on his ass.”
Of course, while Phillips wasn’t willing to put too much emphasis on what #14 ranked Song Yadong can do, that didn’t stop him from feeling supremely confident in the way things are going to go down.
“He’s going to step into the Matrix world and I’m going to unplug him from the system,” Phillips said, referencing his own nickname. “That’s it, take the red pill. He’s renting out that octagon with me and I own that thing, so once you can’t pay anymore, he’s going to have to get evicted.”
Phillips will look to put that number by his own name on Saturday. You can catch his bout with Song yadong as part of the UFC 259 prelims on ESPN+.
You can listen to the complete audio of this interview at 2:27.